The royal house of Denmark was established in the 10th century by a Viking king called Gorm the Old. His son Harald I (Harald Bluetooth), unified Denmark; their successors also came to rule England, Norway, and part of Sweden. This empire split up after the death of King Canute in 1035, but descendants of Gorm the Old continued to reign in Denmark. Today's Danish royal family is descended from the Viking kings.
In 1397, Denmark, Norway, and Sweden formed the Kalmar Union under Margaret I. Born a Danish princess, Margaret had married King Haakon VI of Norway. Although her young relative Eric of Pomerania was the union's official king, it was Margaret who ruled until her death in 1412.
Sweden elected its own king in 1523, but Norway remained united with Denmark until 1814, when Denmark ceded Norway to Sweden. After Norway became independent from Sweden in 1905, its new government offered the crown to Prince Carl, second son of Denmark's future King Frederik VIII. After being approved in a popular vote by the Norwegian people, the prince ascended Norway's throne as King Haakon VII.
Iceland, Greenland, and other islands were also part of the Kalmar Union. Iceland did not end its connection with the Danish monarchy until 1944, when it became a republic. Greenland is still part of the Kingdom of Denmark.
A Danish prince even became the king of Greece. The Greeks deposed their first modern king, Otto of Wittelsbach, in 1862, and chose Prince William of Denmark -- second son of Danish king Christian IX -- as their new king. In October 1863 he took the Greek throne as King George I.
Denmark was neutral in World War I, but the Germans occupied the country during World War II (1940). The popular King Christian X remained in Denmark during the occupation but remained aloof from the Nazis. According to legend, when Nazis ordered all Jews to wear armbands with yellow stars, Christian X defied them by wearing the armband himself. In fact, most Jews in Denmark were never forced to wear armbands; but as the story shows, King Christian's dislike of the Nazis and support for the Jews was well known.
Christian X died in 1947 and was succeeded by his son Frederik IX. After Frederik's death in 1972, the crown passed to his daughter Queen Margrethe II. She still reigns today.
Margrethe married French diplomat Count Henri de Laborde de Monpezat, afterward known as Prince Henrik, the Prince Consort, in 1967. They had two sons, Crown Prince Frederik and Prince Joachim. Prince Henrik died in 2018.
The crown prince, who was born in 1968, married an Australian woman, Mary Donaldson, in May 2004. Their first child, Prince Christian, was born in October 2005. Their second child, a daughter named Isabella, was born in April 2007. In January of 2011, Princess Mary gave birth to twins, Vincent and Josephine.
Crown Prince Frederik's younger brother, Joachim, married Alexandra Manley, a Hong Kong-born British citizen, in 1995. They had two children, Prince Nikolai and Prince Felix. The couple divorced in 2005.
Prince Joachim married a French woman, Marie Cavallier, in May of 2008. She is now known as Her Royal Highness Princess Marie. Their children are Prince Henrik and Princess Athena.
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Book categories: Monarchs, Caroline Matilda, Christian X, WW II, Margrethe II, Crown Princess Mary, History, Scandinavia, Swein Forkbeard, Canute Fiction, Children's Books, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Greece, Vikings
Christian IV: Denmark's Great Renaissance King by Jens Gunni Busck. Christian became king in 1588, at the age of 11, and reigned until 1648. He was considered a hero and martyr by generations that followed him.
Frederik III: The King Who Seized Absolute Power by Jens Gunni Busck. Frederik III reigned from 1648 to 1670 and introduced absolute monarchy in Denmark-Norway.
Christian V: The First Heir to the Throne by Jens Gunni Busck. Christian V reigned from 1670 until 1699. He made an unsuccessful attempt to reconquer territories that had been lost during his father's reign.
Frederik IV: King on His Own Terms by Jens Gunni Busck. Frederik IV reigned in a headstrong fashion from 1699 until 1730. He abducted his beloved Anna Sophie Reventlow, whom he later made his queen.
Christian VIII: King First of Norway and Then of Denmark by Jens Gunni Busck. Christian VIII ruled Denmark from 1839 to 1848 as the country's last absolute monarch; in 1814 he was also briefly Norway's first constitutional king.
Frederik VII: The Giver of the Constitution by Jens Gunni Busck. Frederik VII reigned from 1848 until 1863. He was an odd individual with a rather unstable temperament, and in many ways he a black sheep within the royal family.
Christian IX and Queen Louise: Europe's Parents-in-Law by Jens Gunni Busck. Christian IX and Queen Louise were the first couple of the Glücksburg line on the Danish throne. They ascended the throne in 1863. Today there are not many European royals who are not their descendants.
Frederik VIII and Queen Lovisa: The Overlooked Royal Couple by Birgitte Louise Peiter Rosenhegn, translated by Peter Sean Woltemade. Frederik VIII reigned from 1906 until 1912. He and his wife, Louise, a Swedish princess, had a strained relationship with other Danish royals.
Christian X and Queen Alexandrine: Royal Couple Through the World Wars by Jens Gunni Busck, translated by Christopher Sand-Iversen. Christian X reigned during a period in which the world and the monarchy greatly changed.
Frederik IX and Queen Ingrid: The Modern Royal Couple by Jens Gunni Busck. Frederik IX and Queen Ingrid were the Danish royal couple from 1947 until 1972. Together they modernized the Danish monarchy.
Power, Splendour, and Diamonds: Denmark's Regalia and Crown Jewels by Peter Kristiansen. The foremost symbols of the Kingdom of Denmark -- the crown, the sceptre, and the orb -- have been kept at Rosenborg Castle since the 1680s.
Amalienborg and Frederiksstaden: The Palace and the Royal Quarter by Jens Gunni Busck. Tells the story of Amalienborg and Frederiksstaden and its royal residents over the centuries.
Caroline Matilda, Queen of Denmark: A Tale of Adultery, Murder and High Treason by Hester Chapman. The sister of Britain's "Mad King" George III, Caroline Matilda married Denmark's King Christian VII, who was also insane. Her affair with a royal physician led to the doctor's execution.
A Queen of Tears by W. Wilkins. Biography of Caroline Matilda, Queen of Denmark and Norway, and princess of Great Britain.
The Royal Physician's Visit by Per Olov Enquist, translated by Tiina Nunnally. Novel about Johann Friedrich Struensee, an 18th century royal physician who for a time ran the country for the insane King Christian VII. The doctor's downfall came when he was accused of adultery with Queen Caroline Matilda.
The Lost Queen by Norah Lofts. Novel about Caroline Matilda.
Music & Silence by Rose Tremain. Set in the royal court of Denmark in 1629, this is a novel about a musician who falls in love with the wife of King Christian IV.
APAPA: King Christian IX of Denmark and His Descendants by Arturo E. Beéche and Coryne Hall. Covers the last 150 years of the royal and imperial houses of Denmark, Norway, Great Britain, Greece, Romania, Russia, Hanover, Baden, Mecklenburg-Schwerin and others. Includes nearly 450 photos of King Christian IX and his wife, Louise, and their descendants.
A Family of Kings: The Descendants of Christian IX of Denmark by Theo Aronson. The story of the crowned children and grandchildren of Christian IX and Queen Louise of Denmark, focusing on the half-century before the First World War.
A Conspiracy of Decency by Emmy E. Werner. About the rescue of the Danish Jews during World War II.
Countrymen by Bo Lidegaard. How Denmark's Jews escaped the Nazis with the help of the king, politicians, and ordinary civilians.
Modern Danish Royals
Queen in Denmark: Margrethe II Talks About Her Life by Anne Wolden-Raethinge. Written in monologue form, based on many long interviews, this book captures the direct manner in which Queen Margrethe addresses her people. Illustrated with black and white photos. Published in 1988.
1015 Copenhagen K: Mary's Dysfunctional In-Laws by Trine Villemann. Controversial book on Denmark's Crown Princess Mary and her royal in-laws. This English version contains never-before-published information about Crown Prince Frederik's troubled childhood. Note: Only available through Amazon.com as a Kindle e-book.
Mary, Crown Princess of Denmark by Karin Palshoj, Gitte Redder. Biography of the young Australian commoner who has risen to the formidable challenge of being the Crown Princess of Denmark with grace and style.
Something About Mary: From Good Time Girl to Crown Princess by Emma Tom. A biography of Mary Donaldson, the Australian who became the wife of Denmark's Crown Prince Frederik.
Historical Dictionary of Denmark by Alastair H. Thomas and Stewart P. Oakley. Covers the country's history from prehistoric times through the 20th century.
History of Denmark by Knud J. V. Jespersen. From the Reformation to present day, this book guides the reader through 500 years of wars, territorial losses, domestic upheavals, and changes.
The Danish History by Saxo Grammaticus. Written by a 12th century historian. Includes accounts of legendary Danish kings.
Denmark, 1513-1660: The Rise and Decline of a Renaissance Monarchy by Paul Douglas Lockhart. Embracing Norway, Iceland, portions of southern Sweden and northern Germany, the Danish monarchy was the major power of northern Europe. This book explores how the Oldenburg kings sought to establish their authority.
Splendour in Defeat: The Treasury Collection at Rosenborg in 1696 and 1718 by Jorgen Hein. Rosenborg Castle was a Danish royal residence in the 17th century and early 18th century. This (expensive) three-volume set offers a history of the castle's royal collection and a catalogue raisonné.
Frederik II and the Protestant Cause by Paul Douglas Lockhart. Denmark's role in the wars of religion, 1559-1596.
Lonely Planet Denmark by Glenda Bendure, Ned Friary. Travel guide that covers ancient kingdoms, museums and castles, and more.
Of Chronicles and Kings: National Saints and the Emergence of Nation States in the Early Middle Ages edited by John Bergsagel, Thomas Riis, and David Hiley. Scholars analyze the earliest account of Danish history, the Roskilde Chronicle.
The Saga of King Hrolf Kraki translated by Jesse L. Byock. Written in Iceland in the 14th century, this saga tells the story of King Hrolf, a warrior chieftain who ruled in 6th century Denmark.
Queen Margrethe I, 1353-1412, and the Founding of the Nordic Union by Vivian Etting. The fascinating story of Queen Margrete I's rise to power in Denmark, Norway and Sweden, which culminated in the founding of the Nordic Union in 1397. Gives a vivid picture of medieval society in Scandinavia. Well illustrated.
Swein Forkbeard's Invasions and the Danish Conquest of England, 991-1017 by Ian Howard. King Swein of Denmark was more than a marauding Viking: He was a sophisticated politician who laid the foundations for a great empire.
Cnut the Great by Timothy Bolton. Biography of the 11th-century Scandinavian warlord who united the English and Danish crowns to forge a North Sea empire.
The Empire of Cnut the Great by Timothy Bolton. Conquest and the consolidation of power in Northern Europe in the early eleventh century.
Cnut: The North Sea King by Ryan Lavelle. A brief biography of the Dane who became king of England in the 11th century.
King Cnut and the Viking Conquest of England, 1016 by W. B. Bartlett. Danish prince Cnut and his equally ruthless English opponent, King Edmund Ironside, fought a war of terrifying violence that scarred much of England.
Emma, the Twice-Crowned Queen by Isabella Strachan. Biography of Emma, sister of a Duke of Normandy, who became the wife of two kings, Ethelred the Unready and Canute, and mother of two more, Edward the Confessor and Hardecanute.
Queen Emma and Queen Edith: Queenship and Women's Power in Eleventh-Century England by Pauline Stafford. The first full-scale biography of two early English queens: Emma, queen to Aethelread and Cnut, and Edith, queen to Edward the Confessor.
The King's Hounds by Martin Jensen, translated from Danish by Tara Chace. The year is 1018, and King Cnut of Denmark has conquered England. He enlists a womanizing half-Dane nobleman and an intellectual Saxon monk to solve a politically explosive murder mystery.
The Blood Axe: Story of Viking Kings Knut & Olav by Eileene Harrison Beer. Fiction based on history.
Hamlet by William Shakespeare. Classic 16th century play about a Danish prince. This edition includes essays about the play and its historical origin.
The Yellow Star: The Legend of King Christian X of Denmark by Carmen Agra Deedy, illustrated by Henri Sorensen. A picture book for children between the ages of 9 and 12.
Darkness Over Denmark: The Danish Resistance and the Rescue of the Jews by Ellen Levine. Of the 8,000 Jews living in Denmark at the time of German occupation, almost all survived. This nonfiction book explains how the Danes resisted the Nazis. For ages 10 and up.
These DVDs are formatted for North American audiences.
Hamlet directed by and starring Lawrence Olivier. This 1948 movie won four Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Actor.
Hamlet starring Richard Burton, directed by John Gielgud. Acted in rehearsal clothes, stripped of all extraneous trappings. Filmed during an actual Broadway performance in 1964. The prints were contractually ordered destroyed, but Burton kept one, located by his widow in 1988.
Hamlet starring Mel Gibson. This 1991 movie was directed by Franco Zeffirelli. Glenn Close and Helena Bonham Carter also star.
Kongehuset (official site)